The other evening walking to our favorite dinner spot, I bumped into two beautiful women, friends of mine.  They started sharing how discouraged they’ve been about being single.  One tried unsuccessfully to hold back tears.

“I just helped one of my best friends pick out her wedding dress,” she said.  “And all I could hear in my ears was, ‘You’re 28 and have never had a serious boyfriend, what’s wrong with you?'”

The other one shared, “I’m about to turn 30, with no prospects in sight.  It’s easy to feel utterly hopeless!”

Boy do I relate!  I married at 42 and until then, accompanied each of my best friends, my sister, and myriads of others, down the aisle toward all MY dreams.  I threw the showers (first for weddings, then many babies), and looked around to find my hopes fading and options increasingly rare.

So how does a heart hold on without any signs of change?

There are several ways, not rocket science but effective nonetheless.  Here are the few I shared with my two friends…..

1.  Keep Dreaming Other Dreams — Maybe you can’t make your dream relationship happen, but what other dreams can you make happen?  Do you want to travel?  Write a book?  Redecorate or take a cooking class?   Start a new career?  Buy a fun car that only a single would enjoy?    Use this season to do these or other dreams.

So often single women feel “on hold” or “held back” because they imagine so much will change when they do get married.  Maybe it will, but likely it won’t, and in the meantime you can bring your heart alive by dreaming other dreams.

There was a time when I realized part of my frustration in being single was really about not having a home of my own where I could express my love of decorating and entertaining.  While I had enjoyed some wonderful roommates, it was time to get my own little place.  Wow, the fulfillment I imagined would only come in sharing a home with my husband, suddenly happened by just moving out on my own.  No more waiting to buy a Cuisinart, or a beautiful table and chairs!

While love and marriage tarry, move boldly in the direction of other dreams.  This is THE MOST empowering thing to do whenever a dream feels on hold and out of our control.

2.  Enjoy Your Friends — This may sound obvious, but even after you get married there are certain ways that only friends can enliven the heart and satisfy the soul.  No one relationship is ever an “all-in-all” so take the time now to cultivate varied relationships that bring joy and courage while you wait.

I always dreamed of going to the ballet with my husband, then I married a man who doesn’t like the ballet!  I’m so glad that before we met I was enjoying the Nutcracker with my friend Elizabeth who worked for the ballet and got free tickets.  Nothing like a girl’s night out to satisfy the female soul.

3.  Spend Time With People Like the Person You Want to Marry — 85% of people meet their spouse through mutual friends.  Think about your dream man and imagine who his friends are, where he spends his time, what he probably enjoys doing.  Then make a point to get involved in those settings, not trying to manipulate, but in a sincere desire to position yourself where you also belong.  For me that meant finding a dynamic church full of “whole” people (without “issues”!) who care lots about their faith and making a difference for God.  It also meant attending certain conferences and being proactive in business circles.

There is nothing quite as attractive as someone living their dreams, full of life, engaged in a variety of interesting things.  Open to relationships YES, but not desperate or increasingly depressed.  Bottom line — the more people you know, the more people you know.

4.  Be a Woman of Hope — Lastly, choose to keep hoping.  In spite of what you see or feel, regardless of how things look or don’t look.  Hope is a choice, not a feeling.  Hope is also a “beauty treatment,” making the face beautiful and alive, while keeping the heart engaged.  We all choose whether we will let facts and circumstances determine our countenance, or if we will believe in a power higher than our own and a sovereign plan at work, even amidst no signs of change.

I have determined that for every dream in my heart I will be a woman who hopes, no matter how long it takes.

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